Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Archive for the ‘Free Speech’ Category

International Russian Conservative Forum at St Petersburg: Far Right to ‘Unite’ Nationalist Forces.

with 20 comments

Parties represented at International Russian Conservative Forum.

ST. PETERSBURG — High-ranking members of some of Europe’s most controversial parties descended on St. Petersburg on Sunday to participate in the first International Russian Conservative Forum, an ultranationalist convention glorifying Russia as a refuge for the world’s most marginalized far-right political forces.

The forum’s speakers collectively ticked off all the boxes of intolerance and anti-Western sentiment, egged on by the enthusiasm of the audience filling a conference room at the St. Petersburg Holiday Inn. Through the course of the day, U.S. President Barack Obama was called a Nazi, white Christians were urged to reproduce, gays were referred to as perverts and murdered Russian opposition activists were said to be resting in hell.

Reports the Moscow Times (March 22nd).

United in their contempt for all things EU and their yearning for a socially conservative society, Russia and the extremes of the European political spectrum have forged a tacit alliance. Far-right leaders’ periodic visits to Moscow, combined with Russian banks’ magnanimity toward political entities that European creditors have shunned, have suggested that these parties’ gains in popularity could shift EU policy in Russia’s favor and undermine the union’s stance on the crisis in Ukraine.

Ties between Europe’s far-right and Russia became a little more concrete on Sunday, when radical right-wing party Rodina (“Motherland”), the organizer of the forum, adopted a resolution on the creation of a permanent committee to coordinate Russia’s and Europe’s conservative political forces.

The resolution was the culmination of a full day of 10-minute speeches by more than 30 ultranationalist commentators and the leaders of radical right-wing parties from seven European Union countries, including Greece, Italy, Germany and Britain. They blamed the United States for the Ukraine crisis, deplored the erosion of traditional values in the West and praised President Vladimir Putin’s peacemaking skills.

“The American way of life is not at the center of our politics, nor are gays and lesbians,” said Udo Voigt, a member of the European Parliament and the former head of Germany’s far-right National Democratic Party. “Our focus is on our families and our children.”

The parties rushed to sign the resolution after the Holiday Inn received a bomb threat some 20 minutes before the scheduled end of the speeches. Organizers, who announced the evacuation order, claimed that their “enemies” had called police to sabotage the event. The origin of the bomb threat remains unknown.

A police van stood idle in the hotel’s front parking lot throughout the course of the International Russian Conservative Forum. Security personnel and bodyguards with dangling earpieces scrutinized participants. A handful of Cossacks equipped with leather whips, members of a quasi-militant group presented as guardians of traditional values, secured the entrance to the conference room.

The event’s organizers — members of the St. Petersburg branch of far-right party Rodina, a party founded in the early 2000s by current Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin — claimed that it represented the “first forum of the national-oriented political forces of Europe and Russia in world history.”

Organizers were up-front about the objectives of the event, claiming it was meant to unite European and Russian conservative forces “in the context of European sanctions against Russia and the United States’ pressure on European countries and Russia.”

The Kremlin has neither formally endorsed the event, nor spoken out against it. In an apparent bid to draw parallels between their own views and those of the federal authorities, forum organizers included in their press kit and on their website an excerpt of Putin’s speech at the 2013 Valdai International Discussion Club.

“We can see how many of the Euro-Atlantic countries are actually rejecting their roots, including the Christian values that constitute the basis of Western civilization.” Putin said at the time. “I am convinced that this opens a direct path to degradation and primitivism, resulting in a profound demographic and moral crisis.”

There were no Russian lawmakers or high-ranking officials among the speakers, though State Duma Deputy Alexei Zhuravlyov, who also heads Rodina, was present. Russian Senator Igor Morozov did not speak, despite initially having been scheduled to do so.

The forum’s speakers echoed the Russian state narrative on the pervasiveness of an ill-defined “fascism” in Europe.

More on Moscow Times site.

Ex-BNP leader Nick Griffin tells right-wing conference Russia will save Europe

Undeterred by his waning power over the extremist right-wing in the UK, Nick Griffin has kept with his cause by declaring that Russia will save “Christendom”.

The former BNP leader was expelled from the organisation last year, after members accused him of attempting to “destabilise” it and of “harassing” its membership.

Griffin responded by accusing the party leadership of playing “plastic gangster games”.

At the International Russian Conservative Forum in St Petersbury over the weekend, which was organised by a pro-Kremlin ultranationalist party, Griffin warned the audience that Christendom would succumb to “a terrible civil war”, become and Islamist caliphate “or perhaps both”, BuzzFeed reported.

He added that “the survival of Christendom” is “absolutely impossible without the rise of the Third Rome: Moscow.”

Roberto Fiore of Italy’s Forza Nuova, mirrored Griffin’s comments at the event, and claimed that Moscow is currently the only nation guarding what he regards to be Western values in the way Rome once did.

“It’s not me saying this—it’s God saying it,” he said, the Wall Street Journal reported.

In an interview with the US newspaper, Griffin said Russia is “more free” than the West as a similar event would be banned in the US or the UK.

 

More: Independent.

International Russian Conservative  Forum.

We – community of political and public organizations, not indifferent to destiny of our Homeland – Russia, and all civilized mankind. We urge to unite for the sake of continuation of life on Earth, for the sake of conscientious and good-neighbourhood partnership between the nations of Europe. We decided to hold the first in world history Forum of the national focused political forces of Europe and Russia and to lay the foundation of sensible partnership in fight for preservation of traditional values of modern society: families, for spirituality and moral also we wait from each political and public organization of constructive proposals. We – Organizing committee of the International congress “International Russian Conservative Forum”:

“The Russian national cultural center – People’s House” – public organization which purpose is revival of traditional values and development of the Russian culture. “The Russian national cultural center – People’s House” combines efforts of people of all nationalities concerned by destiny of the Russian culture. It involves writers, musicians, artists, journalists, publishers, theater-goers, public figures in participation in business for return to the Russian culture of its worthy place in souls of people.

“People’s house” has to become a home for creators of the Russian culture. It helps all creators of the Russian World, irrespective of their ethnic, religious and civil origin. “… Our advance isn’t not impossible without spiritual, cultural, national self-determination, differently we will be able to resist to external and internal calls, we will be able to achieve success in conditions of the global competition” V. Putin’s performance at a meeting of the international debating club “Valdai”, the Novgorod region, 19.09.2013

Is Martin Smith (Comrade Delta) Back as Milo Samuels in Unite Against Fascism?

with 10 comments

Most of you will know why this is significant, but just in case here goes. Unite Against Fascism (UAF) is a front organisation for the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), and is mostly funded by trade union affiliations. I’ve covered it here and elsewhere.

One of its most prominent figures was Martin Smith, who was also national secretary of the SWP. (Others include vice-chair Azad Ali, also spokesperson of the far right Islamic Forum of Europe, and Weyman Bennett.) Smith was at the heart of the “Comrade Delta” controversy in the SWP, in which serious allegations of rape were covered up by the party, causing most of its members to leave. (For details on that see, e.g., Dave RentonAndrew CoatesTony GreensteinPham Bin or more from Jim Jepps.)

During his time at the forefront of the SWP’s alleged fight against fascism, he kept up a good friendship with fellow jazz musician Gilad Atzmon, who he helped get a political platform to spout his increasingly antisemitic views, as I’ve documented here. Former party member Dave Renton summarises:

In his capacity as head of LMHR [Love Music Hate Racism] Smith also embarrassed the party by forging a relationship between our organisation and the jazz musician Gilad Atzmon. Smith invited him to speak at Marxism in 2004, when Atzmon began spouting some of the anti-Semitic rubbish he now specialises in. Despite SWP members challenging Atzmon from the floor, Smith continued inviting him to SWP events, and to perform with him at concerts as late as 2007.

After Smith was finally forced to step out of the SWP leadership, for embarrassing the party rather than because of anything he was actually alleged to have done to female party members, he also stepped down from his UAF position.

Unsurprisingly, Atzmon defended Smith, although probably not in a way Smith would have liked to be defended:

“Between 2005-10 I worked closely with Martin and the SWP. At the time I was the SWP’s official Kletzmer. I toured with Martin, performed and spoke in quite a few of those Red gatherings. I met some very nice people in the SWP, but I also came across their many Jewish gate-keepers and tribal operators. But the one thing I never detected in any of those political gathering was a trace of libidinal enthusiasm let alone sexual desire. I assumed at the time that these militant young Marxists had decided to postpone having sex until after the revolution.

However, it didn’t take long to realise that Martin Smith was not being pursued because he is a ‘sex offender’ – he surely isn’t – no, our so-called ‘progressive’ tribals chase Smith because he is a Jazz lover and an enthusiastic fan of my music. They harass him because he gave me a platform in spite of the Jewish demand to ban me. They want to bring Martin Smith down simply because he didn’t obey his tribal masters. So If anything, it is Martin who is the rape victim in this saga – he is punished because he refused to bow down to the tribal junta.”

Presumably, Smith’s move out of full-time SWP/UAF work left him in need of income, so luckily for him a professor at Liverpool Hope University, Michael Lavalette (who happens to be a leading SWP member) got him a paid PhD studentship in, believe it or not, a Social Work department. He also started a blog called Dream Deferred which the SWP have promoted.

UAF have been less prominent since the Comrade Delta debacle, but they were the main component of the Newcastle Unites counterdemonstration against Pegida UK last month and are a major component of the forthcoming Stand Up to Racism and Fascism demo this coming Saturday. (George Galloway, another ally of Gilad Atzmon, a speaker at both events – a bit ironic for a supposedly anti-racist organisation.)

More recently, UAF has secured funding from the National Union of Teachers (NUT) political levy to publish a magazine called Unity. Someone with no other web presence named “Milo Samuels” has been appearing in it, billed as “a Love Music Hate Racism activist”.

For instance, in the most recent (Autumn 2014) issue, he interviews rock band Kasabian. (Kasabian played the Love Music Hate Racism festival in Stoke in 2004 – which Martin Smith organised.)

In the previous (Summer 2014) issue, he has an article on Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit”. (Coincidentally, Martin Smith used to show a documentary about the song at SWP meetings.)

More essential reading on Bob’s site.

 

 Martin Smith – under his own name –  has certainly not gone away.

This (on his site A Dream Deferred) is what he said about the Charlie Hebdo massacre (he wrote this on the 7th of January, just as the atrocity had taken place)

while we share revulsion at the killings, we disagree sharply with those who have responded by reproducing Charlie Hebdo covers “in solidarity” with the magazine or supporting its politics.”

Charlie Hebdo has a long record of producing deliberately offensive anti-Muslim cartoons and other material, loaded with racist stereotypes. ”

“Charlie Hebdo has gleefully helped to stoke this Islamophobia in France, attacking a vulnerable, discriminated-against minority under the guise of “free speech”.”

“At Dream Deferred, we did not support Charlie Hebdo’s nasty racism before the attack, and we do not support it now.”

“The brutality of the killings should not allow anyone to get swept into the idea that publishing offensive racist cartoons is positive or progressive. It is not.”

After having spat on the still warm bodies of our martyrs Smiffy also sagely noted  – regarding the big Je Suis Charlie demos – this,

Some dangers with the ‘Je suis Charlie’ movement

 “Sadly large sections of the French left do not have a good track record on opposing Islamophobia and support uncritically the concept of laïcité – the separation of church and state.”

We would certainly welcome clarification on the identity of Milo Samuels.

But Martin Smith seems perfectly capable of ploughing his own reactionary furrow – along with the SWP, Tariq Ali and other haters of democratic secular freedom.

French Left: Parti de Gauche Refuses to Back Problematic Meeting against “Islamophobia”

with 23 comments

https://i2.wp.com/www.lejdc.fr/photoSRC/W1ZTJ1FdUTgIBhVOGwYSHgYNQDUVGFdfVV9FWkM-/un-meeting-contre-l-islamophobie-fait-salle-comble-a-saint-d_1979110.jpeg

Rally against Islamophobia divides the left.

On Friday at the Bourse du Travail Saint-Denis a rally “against Islamophobia” was held with the backing of some left organisations, notably the Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste and the French Communist Party.

Muslim and Islamist associations were prominent amongst its supporters. These included the Union des organisations islamiques de France (UOIF, close to the Muslim Brotherhood), le Parti des Indigènes de la République, (often described as the militant wing of post-colonial studies and associated with homophobia)  les Indivisibles, Présence musulmane (close to Islamist Tariq Ramadan) and  le Collectif enseignant pour l’abrogation de la loi de 2004 (CEAL) – that is the group which wants to abolish the secular rules on ostentatious religious signs in schools).

 Other groups, above all from the human rights and anti-racist movements, refused to take part.

 These were notably, the main French anti-racist body, the Mrap, la LDH (The League for the Rights of Man, France’s oldest anti-racist human rights group), SOS Racisme and  the Licra (The International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism).

The Left Party (Parti de Gauche) of Jean-Luc Mélenchon also  refused to join. Its general coordinator, Eric Coquerel said. “The term Islamophobia has posed a problem for us for several years. It makes it difficult to distinguish between  freedom to criticise religion and racism  The text also does not cite any other form of racism. In the present context – after the terrorist atrocities – it should have had a broader appeal”.  “At the same time”, he  continued “we have problems with those signing this document. They include communitarian groups and bodies that represent Political Islam. “

Inside the same bloc, the Front de Gauche, the grouping Ensemble backed the appeal and meeting, while the Parti Communist Français maintained its support for the declaration by sent nobody to the meeting.

At the rally itself Ismahane Chouder denounced the fact that people always ask Muslims to be irreproachable on ‘antisemitism’ ‘sexism’ and ‘homophobia”. She called this demand for anti-sexism, opposition to hatred of Jews and of gays,  “Islamophobic”.

Alexander Sulzer L’Express.

For a defence of this meeting see: Grand succès du meeting contre l’islamophobie et les dérives sécuritaires (Laurent Lévy.  Ensemble).

Laurent Lévy ignores the main point of the Parti de Gauche: the questionable term “Islamophobia”. Indeed he continues with the dangerous reactionary confusion between racism and dislike/criticism of a religion.

In Libération today the radical left atheist Michel Onfray comments favourably on the Parti de Gauche’s decision and clarifies this point,

What a joy it is, finally, on the left, and in particular on the anti-liberal (economics) left, my own political side, we have begun to fight this ‘amalgam”. That is, is to lump together criticism of religion with Islamophobia” when it’s a matter of Islam, Christianophobia,  when it’s Christianity, anti-Semitism when it concerns Judaism, to the point where atheism itself becomes blasphemous. “

The writer wishes that this approach will continue, and that it will clarify the debate about religion.

“It  would distinguish those who oppose religion in the name of reason, not racism (in my case, and that of many people who do not even adopt the ‘catechism’ of the left), and those who hide their racism and xenophobia behind the rejection of religion.  One could imagine that once this distinction in the realm of ideas is made, those who do not want religion to govern our law, will be able to clearly distinguish those who dislike the Muslim religion and those who dislike those who practice it. “

Exactly.

Oppose racism against Muslims.

Criticise Islam as a religion.

Islamic Human Rights Commission Dances on Murdered Charlie Hebdo Staff’s Graves.

with 19 comments

Same as Nazis Says Islamic ‘Human Rights’ Group. 

This came up on Facebook,

MURDERED CHARLIE HEBDO STAFF NAMED ‘INTERNATIONAL ISLAMOPHOBE OF THE YEAR’

We turn to the link on  and find, indeed this is the case:

IHRC’s Islamophobia awards.

There are also no prizes for guessing the winner of the “International” category.

The French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo which was the target of a murderous attack in January won the prize here for its continual stoking of Islamophobic sentiment by caricaturing Muslims as terrorists and ridiculing their beliefs.

Charlie Hebdo’s repeated mocking of Muslims is part of a culture of hate that is intended to marginalise, further alienate and further endanger a community that has effectively been “otherised” in much the same way that Jews were in Nazi Germany.

Apparently this is all part of a jolly jape

subverting the stereotype of Muslims as angry and fun-hating religious fanatics.

 

 

It is not known whether the victims of the Hyper-Cacher at the Porte de Vincennes  are included in this fun-loving jamboree’s list of Islamophobes.

Join the struggle for a good larf: Islamic Human Rights Commission.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 9, 2015 at 6:26 pm

Muslim Manifesto: More Right-wing Identity Politics.

with 11 comments

 

 The New Identity Politics.

After UKIP we now have another “identity” political group in the UK. (Hat-Tip: JB)

On the launch of the Muslim Manifesto, right-wing Blogger, Guido Fawkes, notes,

Sayeeda Warsi and a host of Labour MPs attended the unveiling of a ‘Muslim Manifesto’ yesterday at an event on the parliamentary estate. Did they know it was organised by an ‘Islamic extremist’ who has praised Al-Qaeda?

That is, Azad Ali.

Ali, MEND ‘Head of Community Development’, is known to readers of this Blog as an enemy of free-speech and, specifically, of Charlie Hebdo.

He appeared at the notorious Je ne Suis pas Charlie jamboree at the misnamed ‘Unite against Fascism’ conference a few weeks ago.

Claiming that our much-loved Charlie incites hate,  this is Ali’s background,

Assad Ali,

We must not call Charlie Hebdo killers ‘terrorists’, says boss” (Here)

“AZAD ALI, Islamic Forum of Europe (undercover footage): Democracy, if it means that, you know, at the expense of not implementing the sharia, of course no one agrees with that.” “Mr Ali has also threatened journalists – not Parisian cartoonists, but an undercover colleague who secretly taped his “no one agrees with democracy” quote – though there is, of course, no suggestion that he has carried out the threat or any other act of violence.” (from Here).

This is from the draft of the Manifesto, drawn up by the Institute for Muslim Community Development.

Te start with there is one good point.

The document makes clear its opposition to “Muslim-hate” and “Anti-Semitism” – that is hatred against people, not religions – something  the confused term Islamophobia mixes up.

These points stand out for less honourable reasons:

  • Introduce more robust legislation to curb media hate campaigns against Muslims.
  • Guarantee the Muslim community the opportunity to evolve independently of government social engineering programmes.
  • Acknowledge that the holy scripture of Muslims (the Qur’an) does not endorse terrorism and the murder of innocents.
  • Acknowledge and celebrate Muslim contributions to knowledge and civilization including European civilisation.
  • Recognise Muslims have a distinct ‘way of life’ (deen) which opposes any understanding of religion or faith as separate from other aspects of life
  • Promote the positive shared Abrahamic history of Moorish, Christian and Jewish culture in Europe.

I think we can guess what ‘curbs’ on free speech Ali and his cronies have in mind.

Why on earth the state and ‘Britain’ have to ‘acknowledge’ the Islamic religion in such detail, including the plea for celebrating ‘Muslim contributions to knowledge and civilisation” is beyond most people.

This pompous demand seems an Islamic version of the reactionary ‘history’ of the wonders of Britain’s past – empire, slavery and massacres included.

Why we have to endorse their interpretation of the Qur’an is even more questionable.

One cannot but fail to notice that the statement only refers to the murder of “innocents” – what happens to the ‘guilty’ is left unsaid.

In all this draft document looks to many like a plea for separate religious rights for the ‘Muslim community’ – as this group cares to define it.

There is also this, “Encourage enquiry into the effects of oversexualisation of public spaces upon young people.”

Ho hum…

Apart from anything else this reads like it’s been taken from Mary Whitehouse and the Festival of Light circa 1969.

Most people will ignore the ‘Manifesto’.

Still the voice of the Iranian dictatorship, Press TV, seems keen on it.

Important update: US far-right Conspiratorialist site Veterans Today endorses Muslim Manifesto.

The Manifesto has only one main demand, ‘ethical politics for an ethical Britain’, a fact which may be impossible to deliver, when the Prime Minister of Britain has already declared he is a Zionist and ‘will be good for Israel’ and most MPs both Conservative and Labour are members of the lobbying group, Friends of Israel.

For Muslims the main concern is what impact will the Manifesto make against a background of powerful interest groups fuelling Islamophobia through government policies and media, repeating the same tune ‘ Not all Muslims are terrorists but all terrorists are Muslims’.

All this Islamic terrorism rhetoric has achieved nothing else but more wars and conflict, making the bankers and the elite richer, while the majority suffers poverty and austerity measures, with a loss of civil liberties heading to an existence of subjugation governed by Orwellian governments.

What is Veterans Today’s agenda?

myriad claims that there was a conspiracy behind 9/11 (Israel orchestrated it, in cahoots with the American government), that the American government is a puppet (of Israel), that the Holocaust never happened or was greatly exaggerated (Jews made it up to manipulate non-Jews), and, most recently, that Julian Assange, the man behind Wikileaks, is a pawn (of Israel).

Southern Poverty Law Center.

Latest Chartist Magazine: Charlie Hebdo: the Joy of Liberty.

with 3 comments

View image on Twitter

Cabu – who spent his life caricaturing political figures –  says Merde! to Japanese Manga drawer, Hayao Miyazaki, who instructs them not to make fun of holy figures from other cultures and restrict themselves to their own politicians (from here)

Charlie Hebdo: the Joy of Liberty. Andrew Coates.

 From the latest Chartist magazine. (‘For Democratic Socialism’).

7th of January 2015, “I called my mother. For a moment, in tears, I was unable to speak. It was as if we’d lost members of our family.” (Le Monde 30.1.15) Millions in France, and across the world, shared the reactions to the slaughter at the office of Charlie Hebdo, expressed in images by the cartoonist Lisa Mandel. 11 people, from well-known artists to technical staff and police guards, had already lost their lives.

On the 8th of January a municipal policeman was killed at Montrouge. The following day the murderer, Amedy Coulibaly, left four hostages dead at the kosher supermarket, Hyper Cacher, Porte de Vinceness. He was shot by the security forces, as were the two Charlie attackers, tracked down by the police to Dammartin-en-goële.

The butchers, the two Kouchai brothers and Coulibaly, underlined the Islamist character of their ‘synchronised’ action. The first pair shouted, “We have avenged the Prophet Mohamed!” They claimed to spare woman, but murdered the Jewish psychoanalyst and Charlie columnist Elsa Cayat. Coulibaly could not have made his anti-Semitism clearer. He claimed affiliation to the Islamic State in the Levant and Syria (Isis). A more certain link to Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula emerged.

The reaction to the atrocities was overwhelming. An avalanche of Je suis Charlies circulated on social media. On the 11 of January millions demonstrated in France. In Paris the French political class – except the Front National – and foreign leaders, including representatives of countries not noted for tolerating freedom of expression stood in the march.

The crowds celebrated Charlie in the Place de la Bastille. Some criticised the appeal to ‘national unity’. The vast majority of the left, the Front de Gauche, the Parti Socialiste, joined in. There were flags of every description, Puerto Rican, Kurdish, and French. Far from endorsing a ‘union sacrée’ hundreds of thousands of people were there simply to share their common grief.

Appearing after these events Charlie Hebdo (14th of January) stated, “In a week, Charlie, an atheist paper, has achieved more miracles than all the saints and the prophets together …  Charlie has masses of new friends: people without a name, world celebrities, the lowest and the most privileged, sinners and religious dignitaries, the sincere and the Jesuitical, those who’ll be with us for life, and those who are only here for a short time.”

Charlie does not only have friends. Over the years there have been many attempts to silence the Weekly. Since its relaunch in 1992 legal challenges have mostly come from the extreme-right and Catholic fundamentalists. But in 2006 their publication of the Mohammed cartoons of Danish paper, Jyllands-Posten, led to a court action brought by Muslim organisations. The case failed. In November 2011 they announced the production of a special Charia Charlie (Sharia Charlie) with Mohammed as Editor, to ‘celebrate’ the victory in Tunisia of the right-wing Islamist party, Ennahdha. Their offices were burnt out.  The paper was still published.

In Britain some on the left also loathe Charlie. People who have seen no more than a few of its front pages have heaped ordure on the Weekly. Charlie wasn’t just printing a “‘depiction’ of the prophet, but repeated pornographic humiliation.” (Seumas Milne, Guardian. 15.1.15) Charlie, was “blatantly Islamophobic and increasingly Zionist.” (Tim Sanders. Socialist Review 2015)

For a wide range of critics the underlying cause of the massacre was Western intervention in Islamic countries and the Republic’s mistreatment of French Muslims. As Milne says, “So long as we allow this war to continue indefinitely, the threats will grow.”  Charlie had played a role in the battle. Its secularist humiliation of  these believers put it in the camp of the West.

Yet nobody could ignore that the weekly’s humour is informed by radical leftism. Charb, the Editor, backed the Front de gauche. His cartoons, like those of Wolinski, regularly appeared in the communist daily, l’Humanité. Cabu, one of the gentlest and most loved of all French cartoonists,  was a libertarian anti-militarist  green. Other Charlie authors are from the same stable. There views are as varied as any cross section of the left. Attempts to expell them from their own political family are not likely to succeed.

Charlie Hebdo defends secularism,  laïcité, as part of the left’s identity, along with feminism and human rights. It is accused of haughty disdain for religion. But few can ignore that radical Islamism – only one of their targets but the one that it at stake here targets – is against the left’s central values. Charlie does not make the arrogant assumption that any religion is a single ‘community’. It wants the public sphere to be open to all, free of any religious domination. They state, “All of those who claim to defend Muslims, and who accept a totalitarian religious discourse, defend in effect their own butchers. The first victims of Islamic fascism are Muslims.”

“The killers have failed,” observes Serge Halmi, “they have given eternal life to the Weekly they wanted to annihilate” (le Monde Diplomatique. February 2015) More than that, Charlie, is loved.

 Read Chartist!

Chartist 273 Cover

Chartist Site.

George Galloway Says: Hello Ladies! Hello Libel Law Débâcle!

with 15 comments

 Hello Ladies!  Go on say it, you know you want to!

We recently heard about George Galloway when he mysteriously disappeared from Socialist Worker’s list of top MP outside “earners” – he was number 3.

Thanks to the prompt action of Tendance Coatesy the SWP’s accidental oversight was swiftly corrected.

Now we learn that he may need every penny he snaffles from Russia Today, Press TV (Iran’s pro-regime broadcaster), not to mention two appearances on the Edinburgh Fringe (Register of Members’ Interests).

The old todger is now in yet another row:

Complaints to solicitors’ regulator over libel demands from Galloway’s lawyers.

Complaints have been sent to the Solicitors Regulation Authority by Twitter users who have received £6,000 libel demands from solicitors working for the MP George Galloway.

The bitter legal dispute, which has erupted over accusations of antisemitism, has become more complex after Galloway’s office said the money would only be used to cover his law firm’s expenses and the Respect party leader would not “receive a penny”.

Reports the Guardian.

Ho ho!

It’s only losers that are prosecuted.

A less respectful (geddit) report than the Guardian’s says the following,

George Galloway’s high street firm faces rough ride as media law big guns back twitterati in libel row

Top media lawyers have implored the profession’s watchdog to investigate George Galloway’s law firm over its handling of the MP’s defamation claims against Twitter users.

The backlash against Bradford high street outfit Chambers Solicitors — which is best known for immigration work — began earlier this week after the emergence of a Twitter account called @SuedByGalloway, which implores:

“If you’re being sued by Galloway/Chambers Solicitors/ don’t worry — follow us so we can help you.”

Since then, several media law big guns have been working with the account to assist those threatened by Galloway. Legal Cheek can confirm that at least three well-known London libel lawyers are currently helping the tweeters fight the MP rather than pay demands for up to £5,000.

They include Mark Lewis, the leading media lawyer from the News of the World phone hacking saga, and defamation doyen Mark Stephens.

Lewis, of London law firm Seddons, told Legal Cheek that the costs figure “could never be justified” and that a complaint will be sent to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

The saga began when Chambers Solicitors — acting for the firebrand Respect Party MP for Bradford West — sent at least a dozen tweeters demands that they settle or face defamation proceedings.

Galloway — who was famously expelled from the Labour Party in 2003 following his vocal opposition to the second Iraq invasion before going on to appear on Celebrity Big Brother three years later — alleges that those receiving the claims labelled him anti-Semitic on the social media site.

Responding to the Bradford law firm’s tactics, Lewis told Legal Cheek:

“A lawyer’s duty is to stand up for people who cannot otherwise defend themselves from very threatening demands. Mr Galloway’s solicitors claimed £5,000 plus VAT for standard letters on top of damages. That is horrific and brings the solicitor’s profession into disrepute. Mr Galloway’s spokesman says that the letters weren’t shown to the client before they were sent. That is a matter of practise and the SRA must investigate.”

More on Legal Cheek.

Meanwhile the Huffington Post (Sarah C Nelson) looks at the previous story,

George Galloway ‘Anti- Semitism’ Lawyers To Be Reported To Regulator

A legal firm acting for Respect MP George Galloway will be reported to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), it has emerged.

The development comes as a number of people reported receiving letters written by Chambers Solicitors acting on behalf of Galloway, demanding up to £5,000 libel costs + VAT and requesting public apologies for allegedly calling him anti-semitic.

As the letters began to arrive, a Twitter account was set up to offer free legal advice for the recipients – which has since gained the backing of several high profile lawyers including solicitor and libel expert Mark Stephens and Mark Lewis.

Lewis, who was a leading figure in the News of the World hacking scandal confirmed to the Huffington Post UK that he would be making a complaint to the SRA on behalf of three clients on Wednesday.

Informing Legal Cheek the costs demanded in the letters “could never be justified”, he said: “A lawyer’s duty is to stand up for people who cannot otherwise defend themselves from very threatening demands. Mr Galloway’s solicitors claimed £5,000 plus VAT for standard letters on top of damages. That is horrific and brings the solicitor’s profession into disrepute.

“Mr Galloway’s spokesman says that the letters weren’t shown to the client before they were sent. This is a matter of practice and the SRA must investigate.”

In an earlier conversation with HuffPost UK, Lewis added: “By all means defend a reputation where it is proper to do so but do not go back to the days of chilling people from speaking out.”

As Galloway would no doubt reply, “I’m demanding that they be prosecuted. I’m begging them to be prosecuted for perjury.”